10But I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you speak in unity, and that there not be divisions among you. Let yourselves become of one mind and of one opinion. 11For I’ve heard something about you, my brothers and sisters, from those of the household of Chloe. I’m told there are factions among you! 12This is what I’m saying: Each one of you says, “I’m of Paul!” or “I’m of Apollos!” or “I’m of Cephas!” or even “I’m of Christ!” 13Has Christ been divided? Surely it wasn’t Paul who was crucified for you, or into Paul’s name that you were baptized! — 1 Corinthians 1:10-13
When somebody asks who you are, what do you say? What do you think? If they asked you about your religion, what would you say? Are you a follower of Jesus, a Christian, a Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, or member of some specific non-denominational church?
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians they were having an identity crisis. They weren’t sure who they were as a group, and many different factions among them had some pretty wild ideas of precisely what their identity was. Paul called them to be of one mind and one opinion. Now this isn’t a devotional about church unity. I could write a whole bunch about church unity, defining it, defending it, talking about how you make or break it, and so forth.
But today I want to stick with a simpler question: Who are you? Who am I? What is our key identity?
Paul asked the Corinthians the question: Has Christ been divided? The reason he asked that was simply that the Corinthians were identifying themselves with lots of people and lots of factions and not specifically with Christ. There were even people who were identifying themselves as â€œof Christ,â€ but who did so to distinguish themselves from other Christians and mark themselves as special.
Who died for you? Jesus did! Into whose body were you baptized? Christ’s body! As a Christian, one who has been â€œburied with him by baptism,â€ you have died, and your primary identity is Jesus. When you meet people and introduce yourself, you are introducing them to Jesus. People ask me how they can witness. I tell them that they are witnessing. The question is whether it is a good witness or not.
If I introduce you to someone I can tell you many things about them. Those things can be good or bad. I can sound enthusiastic or not. I can suggest just by my tone of voice whether this person would make a good friend.
The temptation is to present yourself as a partisan for your church congregation, your denomination, or your tradition. In that way your church membership is just another point of reference in who you are, like your employment, your membership in civic organizations, or your political party.
But when you say, â€œI’m a follower of Jesus,â€ that’s who your are. That’s a key to your identity. You may hold up your church congregation and the various reasons why that is the particular place where you worship and serve, but Jesus is front and center.
My challenge to myself, and to you as well, is to live this week with the realization that I am constantly introducing people to Jesus whether I want to or not. What kinds of things am I telling those I meet about Jesus?